Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

GTD Quick Start-up Guide

Here’s my quick startup guide to Getting Things Done:

1. Buy David Allen’s Getting Things Done - You will need your own copy. You can’t just check this out from the library and read it once. It will become a reference work that you will go back to several times as you implement and hone your organizational workflow.

2. Set Up a Working Work Area - This means having a trash can, an inbox, a file cabinet, file folders, a labeler, a stapler, scratch paper, binder clips, paper clips, scissors, tape, etc. You will be processing paper. Make sure you are set up to deal well with paper. (Shameless plug: you can buy all of those items at the Juggling Sheep bookstore.)

3. Do a “Ubiquitous Capture” - Capture everything that needs to be processed. This is a daunting and scary project. It means collecting everything in your home or office that needs to be dealt with - books to return or read or throw away, receipts, articles, tapes, DVDs, notes, magazines, board minutes, junk, mail, junkmail, etc. And that’s just the physical stuff. Then you capture everything in your brain (one thought per piece of paper) - ideas, plans, hopes, dreams, unfinished business, appointments, commitments, responsibilities, etc. Put all of these collected things into your “inbox” (note: when I was done with the capture, I literally had two four-foot tall stacks that needed to be processed - 8 feet of junk and stuff and ideas - no wonder I had felt like I was drowning). To read more about my initial ubiquitous capture, click here.

4. Process Your “Inbox” - This is a dauntinger and scarier project. Take everything out of your inbox, one item at a time. Figure out what it is. Decide what to do with it. (I will write more about how to process your inbox later this week.) Eventually it will end up in one of 8 places:

1) Trash
2) Someday/Maybe List
3) Reference (filing cabinet or bookshelf)
4) Project List
5) Project Plan (file or paper)
6) Waiting List (if you’ve delegated it or have to wait for someone else to act)
7) Calendar
8) Contextualized Next Action Lists (the very next physical action for each project)

5. Crank Widgets - Work the system. Keep the appointments on your calendar. Write multi-step projects on your project list. Put next actions on your contextualized next action lists. Do your next actions. Process your inbox every day. Follow up on your “waiting” list. Get Things Done.

6. Do a Full System Review Once a Week - Look at your calendar. Look at your projects and make sure you have a next action for each one. Make sure your next actions are up to date. Do another mini-ubiquitous capture. Empty your brain onto paper again. Do bigger-picture thinking (roles and goals). As a pastor (working toward the weekend), I do my weekly review on Monday.

And those are the very basics of Getting Things Done. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to be leak-proof so you will learn to trust it. That’s why you quit using every other time management system you’ve ever tried. You didn’t trust it because 1) it didn’t contain everything, 2) you didn’t review it enough to make it leak-proof. Now you know.


Jonathan said...

I like your start-up guide to GTD. Looks like I can skip the book now
(hah). I actually got my book last wk. The purging is slow going.
Very cool about your guest blogging. Do you know the other bloggers?

Jay said...

I don't know the bloggers on JustPastors.com, except for reading their blog.

And no, you can't skip the book. That would be like saying you don't have to read the Bible because you heard the sermon... Wait. I know people who actually do that...

Anonymous said...

“Ubiquitous Capture”

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Troy Green said...

is there any software that helps mimic GTD? Like your wallpaper on steroids?

Jay said...

You want to see wallpaper on steroids? Here it is - iCommit v3. Watch the video. Definitely steroids. I think you can probably still sign up to be a beta tester...


Troy said...

found a list...


Any input would be appreciated.

Jay said...

Actually, Troy, I think you'll find I'm the wrong person to talk to about GTD Software.

I have a bit of a cynical outlook on it from watching so many GTD users on an endless search for the "perfect GTD application."

I really feel like the endless search is such a waste of time when you could just use paper lists, whatever calendar you already use, and a good filing system. That's really all it takes.

Do I love having my lists and calendars sync and back up and print between my PalmPilot and my computer? You betcha!

Sorry I'm not more helpful on this topic.

BTW, here's my Top 5 List of "Musts" for a Perfect GTD App. If you find one that does these things, let me know.

Ben said...

Hi Jay,
Long-time GTDer currently training in Christian ministry. Just came across your blog.
I think 'anonymous' is right about ubiquitous. Allen's intent is that you always have the ability to capture information into your trusted system - everywhere - whether that's using HipsterPDA, a 'real' PDA, the back of your hand etc. If it doesn't go straight into your trusted system then, it at least gets captured. What you're talking about is a mindsweep.
Keep up the blogging, mate.

Jay said...

Thanks for the clarification on the difference between the ubiquitous capture and the mindsweep (braindump).

Ben said...

No worries. I'm really glad there's a Christian minister blogging about GTD - it'll help all of us reflect on how to adapt the system for ministry.